are excerpts from the
ASC Board Minutes and the Club Bulletin regarding the merle cocker
has been going on for
a few years now, and from even recent postings, and all the merle
that is out there now,
are still showing unbelievable
ignorance towards the merle pattern.
April Board Minutes:
ASC Zone V :
wanted to know about
the status of the Merle colors…I did have copies of the AKC
director’s letter that went to the Chihuahua Club (opens in PDF)
that they not vote
to disqualify Merle color, as color has no bearing on health…….etc
2005 ASC Bulletin:
cockers: After discussion,
the board decided to delay acting on the standard committee's
to allow these dogs to be registered as merles by including this color
pattern on the registration form. A dominant color cannot simply appear
in a breed. Unlike a recessive, it can't remain hidden for generations.
As guardians of the breed, we
be negligent if we
accepted these animals simply because they are here.
subcommittee has been
appointed to research the pedigrees and hopefully determine exactly
and when the pattern began. Even the merle websites say they don't know
this. If it can be proven that the pattern could not have arisen from
mating indicated by pedigrees, the registration status of all merles
be in question. Then we would look to AKC on what the next step would
Perhaps a "Z" registry like DPCA has for white dobermans.
Meeting Standards Committee ASC-7-2005
– Mrs. Speich, Chair.
The report was rejected by Board members.
MOVED by Ms. Patterson and seconded by Ms. Darke that the Public
Coordinator prepare an educational piece, through the website, that
are not Cocker Spaniels, are not an allowed color. Suggested approaches
were: Buyer Beware! Fraudulent pedigrees, etc.
correct colors are to be included on the website. Further, the Public
Education Coordinator should develop a website page to educate the
that the Merle is not a purebred Cocker Spaniel, and does not have
colors. Motion approved. The Standard Committee should try to research
the merle color in pedigrees to determine if there is evidence that
are or are not purebred Cockers.
2006 ASC Board meeting
Smith, Bill Gorodner, Sharon Reed, Joan Stallard, Harriet Kamps, Linda
Donaldson, Barbara Shaw, Cara Burgess, Jeff Wright, Bonnie Pike, Debbie
Knight, Julie Virosteck, Gale Golden, Bob Rubic, Anna Lee McKennon.
presented his committee report on the merle gene. It was a USDA
kennel which produced the merle cockers. Rusty Butch (whelped 1979) was
bred two bitches within same week and puppies from those breedings,
in 1988, expressed the merle color/pattern
to investigate further, there needs to be a written request from
ASC on ASC letterhead asking for complete stud record of Rusty Butch
colors he produced and similar complete record of the two bitches. The
letter should be sent to David Roberts. Maybe can get registration
on these two original puppies and from everything on down. Jeff urged
Board to follow through.
well be falsified – so AKC might revoke.
Mr. Wright’s committee report:
alone is evidence these animals are not purebred
breed already has many health issues – this gene is going to add even
more health issues, including the possibility of lethal genes, lack of
eyes, deafness, etc.
regard for health, this color is being encouraged by breeding for
this in various puppy mills.
is not the answer. The ASC needs to pursue this issue and do something
to try to protect the breed. AKC has allowed our Stud Book to be
by their acceptance of fraudulent litter registrations as well as by
it upon themselves to change color descriptions to permit registration
of colors the American Spaniel Club does not recognize. The committee
believes ASC needs to take a stronger stand on merle because of the
issue associated with the breed.
AKC won’t pull registration. Abhor color but think we should
allow them to register the color AKC number and educate breeders and
Inspected kennels for AKC. Found B/T Labrador in kennel where Labs
and Dobes were bred and was told by AKC to drop the issue. AKC will
money. If parents are registered, AKC will register offspring.
discussed the problem of identifying the color by appearance alone
and gave the example that sable merle collie can look like a regular
McKennon was interested in identifying the merle gene marker utilizing
Dr. Murphy’s test.
a knowledgeable vet to analyze report to present to AKC.
suggested starting with ASC members who are merle breeders in violation
of the code of ethics. He suggested that the onus was on members to
merles have no genetic markers from other breeds which are legitimately
suggested approaching ASC members asking them to participate in a
study of the merle gene. Bill Gorodner suggested that there are enough
roan cockers to show difference in gene between merle and roan.
close of the hearing, Ms. Torgerson moved that Board follow Mr.
recommendation and request information from AKC on the stud records of
Rusty Butch, Timberline’s Betty and Penny Locks; Ms. Darke 2nd.
2006 ASC Board Minutes
issue still looms. For some reason, color discussions seem to stimulate
an inordinate amount of emotions in our organization. Perhaps this is
part because all but one of our disqualifications pertains to color. At
any rate, AKC has made their stance quite clear: They will register
however they can and “will not refuse to register a cocker based on
alone.” Nor will they revoke any registrations unless we can show color
pedigree proof that they are not purebred. They, of course know that
is impossible. They want us to cure their headache by allowing the
pattern on registration forms. Unfortunately, I see no viable
I am open to suggestions.
2006 ASC Bulletin
2006 REPORT OF
a list of 92 known merle cockers. To produce a merle cocker, one parent
MUST be a merle. One merle parent bred to a regular color results in
merle, 50% nonmerle. Merle to merle bred together will produce 25%
50% merle, and 25% double dilutes, or “whites.” In cockers for example
a MM dog, if a parti, it could be white, or faint gray if it was to be
a black & white, or faint brown if it is to be a brown parti. In
buffs and sables the gene can hide. But if these colors were the
of a merle to merle breeding, they would look peculiar, faint of color,
and the eyes would look different or weird.
a dog that is a double merle and lived to sire whole litters of merle
offspring. His name is Prince Alex of Iron Lake. His pedigree is the
of combining Rusty Butch with Timberline’s Betty and Penny Locks. All
merle cockers come from the mating results of Rusty Butch to these two
bitches. Prince Alex is proof that a double merle cocker can live and
unfortunately, produce. Not all affected merle dogs die as pups or
that merle cockers are a result of an accidental breeding. All merle
cockers are a result of the matings of Penny Locks and Timberline’s
Every known merle cocker’s pedigree can be traced back to them.
has access to a dog sired by Prince Alex Of Iron Lake, and the party
that owns this dog is willing to do the DNA test for our research. I
that we need to retrieve a blood sample of the dog mentioned with Pat’s
help and get the results from this animal which will add to the
research of how the merle gene was introduced to our purebred cocker
issues associated with the merle gene are sensory,neurological and
immune-system defects. Distortion of the eye’s appearance due to a lack
of the reflective substance (tapetum lucidum) that lines the back of
dog’s eye. Dogs that lack this substance have night blindness and other
visual problems. Other eye problems include small eyeballs,
third eyelids, as well as a physical cleft in the iris of the
eye. Abnormalities of the eyes are a key indication of other
defects. Deafness or a reduction of hearing is also a health problem.
white in a dog of any color can be a warning sign of hearing problems.
are a result of many people’s help sharing first hand knowledge
of merle cockers. I will continue to collect any new information and
my findings on the merle gene and its known affects on our breed.
are we now with
by Bettie Campbell
ASC Board became
more aware of the potential health risks that result from
breeding, the dominance of the merle gene, and errors in AKC
it appointed a committee, headed by Jeff Wright to investigate and make
recommendations to the Board. At thesame time the Board became aware of
research which was
a simple buccal
swab test to DNA for the merle gene. (see CHF article in this Bulletin)
Jeff’s July report to
the Board (see summary in this Bulletin), he requested that we have a
of Cockers tested for the merle gene and very astutely suggested that
dogs tested be micro-chipped so that a permanent ID will be guaranteed.
not difficult to
find owners willing to have the DNA testing done and the ASC Foundation
agreed to cover expenses for the microchip, the DNA test, vet costs and
shipping up to a total of $600. When it became apparent that several
dogs were available and were being offered for testing by Rescue homes
and ASC members, the
Board allocated funds
to cover costs over the ASCF allocation, up to an additional $600.
rights to the test,
developed at Texas A & M University, were sold to a commercial lab
and we are now working with them on collection and testing. At this
stage we have also added a blood draw to be banked at University of
Banking On Our Future, blood bank.
with Jeff and the
owners, I am coordinating the collection and testing. Sometimes
comes in small steps. This program to attempt to insure the purity and
health of our Cockers could not be done without the help and support of
people willing to step up and say, “no matter what, I will help”!
you from all of us.
Issue: Members were
unanimous that they do not want the color recognized. Health
and suspicious origins of merle cockers were all mentioned as problems.
suggestion was made to
further define a roan, so that merles could not be registered as roans
2007 ASC Board Meeting
Report – Mrs. Campbell provided an update re testing. Drew blood and
DNA swabs. Mrs. Campbell banked the blood and has the
One dog has not been
taken for testing and Mrs. Campbell said she will get additional dog
by herself. Various suggestions were discussed about how to handle the
merle color on the registration certificate. The ideal goal is to
merle gene from the cocker spaniel gene pool. Alternatively, work with
AKC to manage so health issues associated with the merle gene don’t
Need to sit down with empirical evidence that registry process has
is incumbent on them to resolve problem. Need to know what can do with
AKC. Like to see sit down with AKC sooner rather than later. Engage AKC
in the process
Darke moved Jane Williams
chair the merle committee, comprised of Bettie Campbell, Bruce Van
and Jeff Wright to meet with AKC and report back to the Board by July
a progress report at spring Board Mtg. Second by Ms.Torgerson.
2007 ASC Bulletin
Board also set deadlines
for the ad hoc Merle committee work..